08 July 2019
If access control is a
way to maintain the security of both real-world and digital spaces, physical access
control can be seen as a locked door. Only admitting entry to a building, room
or area to those with the right ‘key’ – such as a code, fingerprint scan or ID
card – physical access control serves as a responsive barrier that creates a secure
control isn’t just about keeping people out though, it can also be used to manage
the number of people or vehicles that can enter or leave a space at once,
making it an important component of crowd control and health and safety implementation.
Here we explain how
physical access control systems work and how the technology is continuing to evolve.
The three elements of access control
All types of access
control – physical access control included – can be understood in terms of
three key elements; identification, authentication and authorisation.
When the security of a building or space relies on only granting
access to certain individuals, a physical access control system needs a way to
tell them apart from everyone else. Types of physical access control
identification include PIN codes, ID cards, barcodes and biometric characteristics,
such as fingerprints, voice patterns and irises.
This is where the identification credentials presented to the access control reader
are checked against what’s stored in the system. Some types of access control
have just one, single factor authentication process, others have two or more
(more on this below).
If the credentials match an authorised record within the access
control system, the individual will be authorised to access whatever the system
is restricting access to – in the case of physical access control, the secure
building or space.
All physical access
control systems have at least single factor authentication; an element the
system asks the user to submit in order to check their identity, such as their
fingerprint. Solutions with additional authentication checks ask for more than
one form of identification before granting access, increasing the level of
security of the restricted space.
For example, two
factor authentication access control might ask for a form of biometric identification
like a fingerprint, and something the user knows, such as a PIN code.
Access control systems
with three factor authentication might require a fingerprint, a PIN code and
something the user carries, such as a proximity ID card, before access is
The future of physical access control
is opening up what’s possible in terms of physical access control. The industry
is moving towards ever-more convenient identification and authentication
methods for authorised individuals, while increasing security in relation to
those without authorisation. So, next time your business upgrades to a new
physical access control system, you might find yourself considering some of the
With their ability to
transmit encrypted data at short distance, it’s likely we’ll soon start to see
ID cards and badges replaced by smartphones. Most people are never without
their phones, so using these near-field communication (NFC) enabled devices as
proximity ID instead of an easily-misplaceable card or badge makes perfect
As well as cutting
data storage costs, storing system data in the cloud will make for further and
smoother real-time integration between access control systems and other
applications that contribute to organisational management, such as CCTV and
time and attendance software. What’s more, the cloud will enable anyone,
anywhere (with the right permissions, of course) to monitor and manage a
physical access control system online.
Ensure a secure and streamlined
working environment with physical access control
Future developments in
access control are exciting, but our access control solutions are perfectly-equipped to preserve the
security of your organisation right now. To find out more, please get in touch with us today.
About the Author
Lynden joined Touchstar ATC (formally Feedback Data) in a
sales role for Access Control in 2010. Prior
to joining the company, Lynden held both Production and Account Manager roles,
gaining wide technical and commercial experience within the electronics market.
In 2013 Lynden was promoted to Sales Director and in 2017 he
took overall responsibility of the business as
Managing Director. As well as running Touchstar ATC, Lynden still remains
extremely active in the sales and key account management aspects of the
business. When not involved in the business, Lynden is a keen performance car